EPR Becomes Opportunity

We’re building systems for circular success that empower brands to shift extended producer responsibility (EPR) from a burden into an opportunity to meet commitments, serve communities and drive change at scale.


Brands and retailers have made ambitious commitments to develop recyclable packaging and packaging with high recycled content. But to meet their material commitments, real systems-level change must come first.

With plastic recycling rates lingering around 10% in the United States, there’s simply not enough post-consumer recycled (PCR) content to go around. In fact, the U.S. plastic recycling rate must increase two to three times in order for brands to fulfill their 2030 PCR commitments.1

Increased consumer recycling education could help. So could improved collection infrastructure. According to The Recycling Partnership, 40% of Americans lack access to household recycling that is just as convenient as trash service. Investments in new recycling technologies as well as consistent chain-of-custody tracking could help, too. But someone must connect all the dots from demand to supply and back again. That’s where GreenDot comes in — and it’s also why EPR can be a vital part of the closed loop system.

1 Compared to a 2018 U.S. plastic recycling baseline. PCR commitments range from 25–40% recycled content in products by 2030. This statistic is derived using data from Ellen MacArthur Foundation and a survey of top brand and retailer PCR commitments in the U.S.

The State of EPR in the U.S.

EPR is beginning to roll out across the U.S. As of January 2023, four states had enacted packaging EPR legislation, while ten more were actively debating new regulations. States are also considering other types of legislation that would significantly affect plastic packaging.

Every state’s EPR expectations are different, meaning companies that sell across the United States must comply with multiple EPR schemes. The landscape will only become more complicated, unless all of us work together to shape what comes next.

Modeling Effective EPR

GreenDot is helping implement EPR regulations and developing EPR models in areas where regulations do not exist. We advocate for effective and efficient EPR models at the state, federal and international levels.

Our experience has demonstrated that effective, efficient EPR programs are producer driven, comprehensive and connective. We believe the measurement of EPR effectiveness is a significant increase in recycling rates.

Efficient EPR incorporates a legislative framework to define objectives without prescribing a detailed path.

  • Define clear responsibilities for producers, Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs) and municipalities
  • Set ambitious and predictable recycling targets that are technology-neutral
  • Incorporate eco-modulation and targets for recyclability of new packaging
  • Establish separate targets for minimum recycled content with a set timeframe

Effective EPR accounts for producer needs — like consistent access to high-quality recycled content — while setting clear responsibilities for individual producers and Producer Responsibility Organizations (PROs).

  • Develop fee-setting models suited to reach targets effectively through weight/material-based fees, recyclability and recycled content incentive
  • Devise collection system for maximum quantity and quality of input, equal access for consumers and statewide coverage
  • Provide transparency in material flow tracking to producers and authorities
  • Achieve optimum cost-benefit through tenders for collection and sorting

Finally, effective EPR programs ensure appropriate connection and coordination with participating municipalities.

Learn about the opportunities created by effective EPR.

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